“Work hard, but smartly and ensure you measure what you do to become better and better.” Mr Philip J Mani, Managing Director, Schmalz, replied to the question, “What is Success?”
Schmalz India, a 100% subsidiary of J. Schmalz GmbH leads as a market leader in automation with vacuum as well as for ergonomic handling systems enjoying the reputation as a partner in demand worldwide. Their success is built on the pillar of innovative strength that drives every Schmalz India employee. They recognize the requirements of the customers, understand them, and develop the right products from ground-breaking ideas.
At the helm of this revolutionary organization is Philip J Mani, who incepted his journey with the brand in 1999 as a Sales Manager. He moved through different phases of learning from sales, to project management, to construction to reporting. In the year 2003, he could foresee the company as one of the biggest companies in the Group.
From then, the 8 employees have transformed into 150 enthusiast employees, who remain the core success driving factor. This is accompanied by their retention with the company for a longer period. Thus, more than 50% of Schmalz employees have spent either 5 or 10 or 15 years with the company.
In 2011, Philip took command as Managing Director as the first step to have a clear and structured workforce. This remained a part of yearly and long-term 5 years goals, which were achieved with some extremely well-planned activities. “We planned, acted, reworked the results, and developed new plans thereon which have been the main reasons for our success,” Philip added.
Schmalz started very early in India, with an extremely rare technology and also the understanding of the usage of Vacuum for handling. Over the years, India has developed and so is the knowledge for such products they serve. Furthermore, with the pandemic, companies realize the need for material handling and also, that it needs to be fast.
Philip shared, “2021 is an extremely special year of growth which breaks all records of sales and display the highly potential years to come. Becoming the “Company of the year 2021” is like an icing on the cake.”
“A big yes. This technology was too early for India. It took us quite a while for been accepted. Schmalz products, being a world leader in Vacuum Handling Technology, were loved by the Indian audience due to their quality and ease of working systems.”
“Let me tell you a story of a customer from the white goods manufacturing industry who, at the start, was reluctant about the system usage and thus, drove us to provide them with a demo. Even during the demo, one manager came up with a point that it should have controls just like a motorbike throttle so that it is easy for the worker to use.”
He continued, “Although it was not the part of the original plan, we catered to with their risky demand. A year later, they visited back to the original method and the operator said he was even happier with the same. This helped us multiply about 13 more systems into their companies all over India. We had to go out of our comfort level to bring the first customers to us.”
Concerning handling solutions using vacuum technology, Schmalz has a wide range of products in both vacuum automation as well as with manual handling.
The broad spectrum in the Vacuum Automation business unit includes individual components such as suction pads or vacuum generators, complete gripping systems and clamping solutions for holding workpieces. In the handling business unit, they offer innovative handling solutions for industry and trade with vacuum lifters and crane systems.
“I love challenges and need them to keep me motivated. Thus, I believe that if there are no challenges in life, then it is the end,” he shared.
Over the years, India is now at the forefront of developing nations at a faster phase. So, competition is growing in their field as well, which is a challenge at the same time. He shared, “I believe, that with competition the knowledge of end-users grows and thus the market expands faster and the need for the products also grows to make room for all.” It is noticed that with the changing phase, they also need leaders in our organization, here the need to develop them is the challenge.
In a heartbeat, Philip says, “the approach we have towards the market is different, be it in sales method or especially after-sales service allows us to make a unique mark. India is very cost driven but with the need for high quality and service market. They realized, at a very early stage that, they need to provide excellent after-sales service to be able to survive in India and are driven by the same realization.”
“The first five days of the pandemic lockdown was a time for me to rethink the fact that the company may shut down its complete operations. I developed new strategies to approach customers, training, meetings, even installations by way of video conferencing,”
He added, “Going forward, we also decided to keep the systems alive by converting 20% of the working days monthly to work from home. It has its advantages of cost-saving and also provides higher motivated staff and change the workforce to also understand the importance of family.”
Like all companies all over the world, 2020 has been challenging for Schmalz. However, it was surmountable with their extensive product portfolio which caters to all types of industries including wood, glass, pharma, food, chemicals, automotive packaging etc. They look forward to moving in the direction of “Make in India”. Thus, they have planned to further expansion of the production in a new facility, to manufacture light Rail Systems.
“India is a fast-developing nation, there are many avenues to venture into this country, especially while we talk about energy-saving technologies and global warming. One should look into these areas and venture into the same. The Government of India has some good schemes to motivate aspiring entrepreneurs into these areas,” Philip advised.
Schmalz is actively involved in giving back as it has associated with a school nearby the company premises. They helped them develop a curriculum on Vacuum and Pneumatics and provided them with the necessary tools for the same. This school has children from a financially low background, who may or may not continue their higher-level studies.
Thus, the school equips them with practical knowledge from the 5th class to ensure that they can become entrepreneurs of tomorrow at an early age. During the pandemic, they also provided face shields to employees of hospitals and police departments for their safety during the service they provide to the public.